ELDERLY residents in Huntingdonshire are being told to be on their guard after a series of distraction burglaries involving youths claiming to have lost their football. Cambridgeshire police are issuing the warning after three similar incidents took place

ELDERLY residents in Huntingdonshire are being told to be on their guard after a series of distraction burglaries involving youths claiming to have lost their football.

Cambridgeshire police are issuing the warning after three similar incidents took place in two days.

The ruse was first used on Wednesday June 14 at 6pm at a home in The Green, Somersham. A 69-year-old woman was in her back garden when she was disturbed by a man who said he had lost his ball in the garden and wanted her to help him find it.

The victim then noticed another man in her shed. He claimed he had been checking drains in the area.

The woman called for her husband and the men ran off. Nothing was stolen.

The second incident took place the following day at 5pm in Barham, near Huntingdon. Two men tried to use the football story but were refused entry to the property by the 82-year-old owner. They made off in a silver estate car.

The third reported incident took place half an hour later in Rectory Gardens in Godmanchester. A 75-year-old woman was in her garden when a youth approached her, claiming he had lost his football. While she was talking to him, two other men stole some money from her purse, which was in her bedroom. The youth is described as white, about 17 years old, with short fair hair and spoke with a lisp.

Detective Constable Mark Cockerham, from Ramsey's burglary team, said elderly residents should be on their guard and should not trust anyone they do not know.

"We don't want elderly people to be frightened to open their doors, but we want them to take all precautions possible to avoid becoming a victim."

Alan Mackender-Lawrence, community contact officer for Huntingdon, told The Hunts Post: "It's a cruel crime where burglars prey on the vulnerability and kindness of the elderly and we want to make sure the residents of Huntingdonshire are prepared.

"We recommend residents lock all windows and doors and if someone calls at your house you should stop and consider whether you are expecting anyone.

"Then put the chain on the door and ask the caller to post their identification through the letterbox for you to check. You should never just open the door, as once they have pushed past you and knocked you over, you won't be getting up in a hurry."

INFORMATION: Anyone with information should contact Dc Cockerham on 0845 4564564 or Crimstoppers on 0800 555111.